Local and Michigan Headlines: Capitol News Coverage Dying; Bill Targets Teachers Who Strike

Here are some interesting stories published elsewhere on the web in the past twenty-four hours. Feel free to discuss them in the comments or let us know if we missed anything:

  • Capitol news coverage dying – This column from the Lansing City Pulse by MIRS editor Kyle Melinn looks at the dramatic decline in news coverage at the capitol. Over the past several years, media outlets across Michigan have dramatically reduced the number of reporters covering the state capitol. With important issues before the legislature–such as the upcoming budget–Melinn says that people want to know what is going on in Lansing, but he isn’t sure if there will be reporters to satisfy their interest.
  • Health and Hope – This is an interesting article from Rapid Growth Media about a dentist who was inspired by a trip to Africa to give up his lucrative dental practice in the suburbs to provide dental care for low income patients in the Burton Heights neighborhood as part of Health Intervention Services. The clinic is part of the Free Clinics of Michigan network. To be sure, it’s going to take a lot more than individual acts of charity and selflessness to fix the health care system in the United States, but it’s great to see things like this.
  • GRIID Interviews Kathy KellyThe Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID) interviews activist Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Non-Violence. Kelly was in Grand Rapids last night to speak about her recent trip to Pakistan and what she learned from talking with refugees who have been displace by U.S. drone attacks.
  • War Funding Coverage Full of Omissions – Over the past week, MediaMouse.org has reported on the debate over war funding in the House of Representatives. In particular, we have looked how the Democratic Party has been willing to sellout its anti-war constituents. In this piece, the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID) looks at how the war funding bill was covered in the Grand Rapids Press. Not surprisingly, it was barely covered, but what can you really expect from a newspaper that has no national reporters?
  • White House Says, ‘Stand Tall, Michigan!’ – The Obama administration’s so-called “green jobs czar” says that Michigan has everything it needs to make it “a green energy capital of the world.” The only thing missing is the political will to adopt green policies.
  • Proposed bills tell teachers one strike, they’re out – Two proposed bills in the Michigan House of Representatives will make it easier to punish teachers who participate in strikes. The bills would enact new penalties–including loss of certification for two years–on teachers who strike. Teacher strikes were made illegal under a 1994 law.
  • Dow dioxin cleanup in mid-Michigan could take years – This article from the Detroit Free Press describes a pretty typical pollution scenario. A corporation–in this case Dow Chemical–contaminates a large swath of land with a toxic chemical–in this case dioxin. After several years of citizen complaints, the EPA finally decides to investigate the issue. First, they promise a study. Then, they decide how to clean it up, then they actually (more often, a maybe) start doing the work. It takes years before the pollution is ever cleaned up. In this case, clean up could last until 2018.

Religious Right Group Files Lawsuit Against Radical Queer Group over Church Disruption

Bash Back Protest

The rightwing Alliance Defense Fund has announced yesterday that has filed a lawsuit in federal court (Western District of Michigan) against activists who disrupted a church service in Lansing last Fall. The activists–part of a national queer/transgender network called Bash Back!–disrupted a church service at the “anti-queer mega church” Mount Hope outside of Lansing, Michigan. Bash Back! targeted the church over its anti-gay politics.

While the protest resulted in no arrests or local charges, the Alliance Defense Fund is now pursuing an effort in federal court to hold the activists responsible for civil rights violations (physical obstruction to a place of worship and intimidation at a place of worship) and trespassing.

According to independent media sources and Bash Back! the lawsuit has resulted in subpoenas being served on three activists in the Midwest. The federal complaint lists 14 activists by name who are believed to be associated with Bash Back! and the protest. In some cases, the complaint says specifically what activists are accused of doing–i.e. providing transportation–or that they were documented as being there by local law enforcement.

Much of the complaint focuses on Bash Back!’s use of so-called violent imagery of guns and activists glad in bandanas. It also argues that Bash Back! deliberately sought to intimidate the congregation and instill fear.

ADF says that the actions of Bash Back! indicate “how dangerous the homosexual agenda is to our First Liberty, religious freedom.”

In response to the lawsuit, Bash Back! said:

The work of devoted Bash Back!ers and allies determined that this morning’s hysteria is the result of the Alliance Defense Fund, a notorious anti-womyn, anti-queer, racist organization. The ADF decided to sue Bash Back!, Bash Back! Lansing and individuals because the authorities would not file a single criminal complaint regarding an action at the Mount Hope Church in Lansing last fall. But that’s not all! Those pesky evange-fascists are trying to identify and out up to 20 other people involved with Bash Back! in the hopes that criminal charges will be placed against them.

Interestingly, the lawsuit is alleging that Bash Back! Violated the church’s and its congregation’s first amendment rights under the FACE Act, a federal act that was first passed to limit the activities of anti-abortion protestors.

In the past, the Alliance Defense Fund has campaigned against measures aimed at giving civil rights to transgendered and gay citizens.

Protests Force Former Congressman to Cancel Lecture at UNC

Protest Forces Tancredo Off Stage

Back in 2006, protestors at Michigan State University (MSU) confronted racist Congressman Tom Tancredo and disrupted his speech by chanting. In the aftermath, conservatives took to the airwaves claiming that Tancredo was the victim of violence.

Tancredo received a similar welcome earlier this week at the University of North Carolina (UNC):

Before the event, campus security removed two women who delayed Tancredo’s speech by stretching a 12-foot banner across the front of the classroom. It read, “No dialogue with hate.”

Police escorted the women into the hallway, amid more than 30 protesters who clashed with the officers trying to keep them out of the overcrowded classroom. After police released pepper spray and threatened the crowd with a Taser, the protesters gathered outside Bingham Hall.

The protesters relented, and Tancredo began to speak, describing failed state and federal legislation aimed at providing in-state tuition benefits for undocumented immigrants.

Two women stretched out another banner, first along one of the aisles and then right in front of Tancredo. Tancredo grabbed the middle of the banner and tried to pull it away from one of the girls. “You don’t want to hear what I have to say because you don’t agree with me,” he said.

The sound of breaking glass from behind a window shade interrupted the tug-of-war.

Tancredo was escorted from the room by campus police.

Event Follows Similar Script Tancredo’s Michigan State University Appearence

The event was surprisingly similar to Tancredo’s appearance at MSU in 2006. Like that event, the speech was organized by a student group that endorses racism and white supremacy under the guise of opposing “multiculturalism.” In this case, it was a group called “Youth for Western Civilization” a nationwide group that opposes undocumented immigration, multiculturalism, and affirmative action.

Of the group, its president said:

“This is an organization that seeks to promote Western civilization,” Matheson said at the event. “We believe that our civilization is under attack from liberal forces.”

Matheson said his organization supports people from every race participating in Western civilization, but that they must be properly assimilated to American culture first.

At Michigan State University, it was Young Americans for Freedom who organized Tancredo’s speech.

Tactically, the appearances were similar: the rightwing student group brought a controversial speaker to campus to provoke “violence” from leftist student groups, put members of their group in the crowd with video cameras to capture images of the “violence,” and then went on the news to denounce the left.

Those who have been following this blog for the past few years will remember that Young Americans for Freedom at MSU brought in a string of racist speakers–Chris Simcox, Nick Griffin, and Jared Taylor. The organization was later dubbed “a hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. However, every time we saw the same thing–invite a speaker with the hopes of provoking a confrontation and then use that in an attempt to gain more support for their cause.

Video: “Collateral Damage? Civilians in Gaza Pay the Price”

On February 27, Je Stork of Human Rights Watch spoke at Michigan State University (MSU) in Lansing on the situation in Gaza. Stork–who’s work for Human Rights Watch focuses on violations of international law in the Israeli-Palestinian issue–spoke on how civilian casualties Gaza. Stork looks at both the actions of the Israelis and Palestinian groups and argues that civilians are frequently caught in the middle.

Here’s the video:

An interview with the speaker–conducted by Lansing’s Peace Education Center–explores the Israel/Palestine conflict in more detail.

For additional information, Human Rights Watch has a page that collects all of their coverage of the Israel’s attack on Gaza.

Starbucks Union Discusses Organizing Efforts in Grand Rapids, Twin Cities

Over the weekend, Cole Dorsey of the Grand Rapids Starbucks Workers Union along with Erik Forman and Angel Gardner of the Twin Cities Starbucks Workers Union spoke at The NorthStar Center on organizing at Starbucks and what it means for the future of the labor organizing in the United States:

Thanks to RicoThomasRico.Blogspot.com for recording the event.

“Shock Doctrine” Author, Naomi Klein Speaks at MSU; Addresses Economic Crisis

Author Naomi Klein Spoke at MSU on Disaster Capitalism, Resistance, and the Current Economic Crisis

Canadian author, activist, and filmmaker Naomi Klein spoke at Michigan State University on Tuesday. Klein is on a tour promoting her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

Klein began her talk by saying that what inspired her to write The Shock Doctrine was what she discovered in her reporting from Iraq in 2003-2004. The author said that one of the most grotesque myths about the Bush administration is the idea that they had no plan for Iraq. Klein firmly believes they did and the plan was to remake Iraq’s economy.

Iraq War leads to “The Shock Doctrine”

Restructuring Iraq’s economy was the mandate that Paul Bremer received from the Bush administration, with a particular emphasis with how restructuring the economy would be beneficial to foreign banks and investors. Privatization was the mantra, according to Klein, and what better way to bring this change about than by the 2003 US invasion. Her reporting in Iraq led her to look at “the relationship between the various shock doctrine techniques, both legal and economic, which when resisted led to military shock.” The military shock most often meant the repression of popular dissent by a variety of civil society sectors throughout Iraq.

The problem, Klein said, was using a crisis to get around democracy. Klein then went to New Orleans to continue her research and discovered very similar patterns to policy decisions after Katrina.

“Developers had pre-disaster plans to redevelop New Orleans, so the flooding provided the mechanism to allow this to happen. They decided to not rebuild public schools, but gave parents vouchers to go to private education systems.”

Another recent example of disaster capitalism, according to Klein, was what happened after 9/11. It wasn’t just the Patriot Act and the War on Terror that the Bush administration promoted, but the restructuring of the economy.

“The War on Terror was in a sense a business plan. What happened under Bush wasn’t new, but a process that really began with Reagan as a counter-revolution to the New Deal policies. What Bush has done differently, was to privatize the military and border patrol.”

What about the Current Crisis?

Klein argued that the Obama campaign realized that blaming the crisis on these right-wing policies would give him the edge to win the election, even though Obama supported the Paulson-led bailout. Klein feels that Obama’s victory was a referendum against these economic policies and that there are openings in American society. She said that there is a consensus that there needs to be a shift in the economy. Klein believes that the Obama administration is not applying a shock therapy to the current crisis. However, “they are giving over massive amounts of public money, unlimited access to the public ATM. So, who needs privatization when you have this public trough?” Since the banks and other Wall Street sectors keep coming back to the public, US taxpayers are going to be stuck with a huge debt. Klein said that even though much of the mainstream media is putting the bailout price tag at roughly $3.5 trillion, it is more accurately around $10.5 trillion.

The Shock Doctrine author went on to say that it is interesting that the right is claiming that what the Obama administration is doing with the stimulus is socialism. Klein is amazed at how many people believe that Obama’s policies are socialist, when in fact they are really corporatist in nature. The stimulus is really “public money being transferred to the private sector.” Klein says that when we look at the bailout the numbers are amazing. Citigroup alone has received $45 billion. They are worth $20 billion on paper, according to Klein. “Taxpayers have already given the banks more than the market is able to. The government has voluntarily surrendered the power it could have with the bailout, by not enforcing any accountability.” She went on to say that we all hear about the corporate scandals – AIG’s spa vacation, etc., yet Congress continues to give them money. The banks have been nationalized in a sense, because of the bailout, but in effect, they still operate as private entities.

Klein advocated for the nationalization of US banks, because it would not only mean that the public would have their losses, but also their profits. It would allow the public to have a say in how the money is used and who would get it. Statistically, the bailout is equivalent to being able to pay off every mortgage in the country. “Can you imagine,” Klein said, “if people did not have mortgage payments how much more vibrant the real economy would be?”

What about the Stimulus?

For Klein, the stimulus is just the other side of the coin of the bailout. It is not the green dream that was promised. Money for mass transit was cut in half and funding to states was also cut. Another thing that Klein pointed out is that with the stimulus there will be no breakthrough on health care. The California Nurses Association study shows it makes no sense to provide subsidies to a health care system that doesn’t want to provide health benefits to people who are not insured. A single-payer system would not only provide health care to everyone, it would also create a tremendous amount of jobs.

We can Take our Cue from People Around the World

Klein then shifted the discussion to looking at how the rest of the world has been reacting to the global economic crisis.

In Iceland, one government has come down because of the crisis. Italy has been cutting back funding for schools and the students have rebelled and are using the slogan, “We won’t pay for your crisis!” Students have been on the frontlines of this crisis in most countries around the world, according to Klein. In France, it was announced that when teachers retired, the President would not replace them. How did the French people respond? There was a massive strike, with massive public support. In Greece, it has been farmers blocking the roads. Klein wrote about this global resistance in a recent Nation magazine article, one that includes great video links to public resistance globally.

Klein then mentioned the Republic Doors and Windows factory strike. She said that one of the reasons that they won is because they were not just picking a fight with the factory owner, but also with Bank of America. Their slogan was, “You got bailed out. We got sold out.” What was also amazing about what these workers did was that they were willing to break the law. Klein said, “We need more of Republic Doors and Windows. If there is going to be a progressive movement, we need a radical labor movement in this country.”

Another point that Klein stressed to the audience was the need to remember what it was that got the New Deal policies put in place. The author said that the popular notion was that FDR devised the New Deal policies because of his liberal orientation. However, Klein’s take on that part of US history is that the New Deal policies were advocated by FDR because he knew that if those reformist policies were not adopted there might have been a revolution. The US labor movement was so big and so well organized that it scared the political establishment into adopting the New Deal policies as a way of preventing serious social upheaval. Klein thinks we need to learn from this history and not wait for politicians to make changes. Instead, she emphasized that we have to build movements to demand changes.

Q & A

There were several questions from the audience, many of which were asking for clarification of comments made during the talk.

One of the more important questions asked was, “Why are we not resisting here?” Klein responded by saying:

“In Europe people don’t treat their politicians like rock stars. They don’t treat them with reverence. Because there is this reverence in the US, we wait for the great man to give us good news. What we do not hear about is the tremendous pressure from the grassroots, the kind that lead to the New Deal. Since we have this distorted understanding of history, we are just waiting for Obama to just deliver us from evil.”

Klein was also asked if she thought that Obama would be as bad as Bush, to which she responded:

“Of course I don’t think that he is as bad as Bush, but the question kind of misses the point. The danger is that we are so relieved from eight years of Bush that we will lie to ourselves about what is really happening. The worst of the economic policies, the one that are haunting us now, were passed under Clinton. Clinton pushed much of the deregulatory policies that Bush just drove home. There is a real price to this kind of intellectual dishonesty, because if we don’t own up to this history we will suffer for it. Look at what MoveOn did. They built their data-base as an anti-war group, but never challenged Obama on his military platform, particularly is financial support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and his current push to intensify the war in Afghanistan and probably Pakistan. Those of us on the left need a movement based on principle and truth, not just strategy, if we are going to seriously make any changes.”

Starbucks Union Event in Lansing Saturday

Two Members of the Starbucks Workers Union will be Speaking in Lansing

A fired Starbucks barista and member of Grand Rapids’ Starbucks Workers Union will be speaking in Lansing about the campaign to organize Starbucks and its relevancy to the larger labor movement:

Worker Organizing at Starbucks

Saturday Feb. 21st, 4pm , Northstar Center, Lansing

Erik Forman: Starbucks Worker Union Member – Minnesota

Cole Dorsey: Starbucks Worker Union Member – Grand Rapids, MI

Forman. After working at the Mall of America 1 Starbucks in Bloomington, MN for over two years, Erik Forman was illegally fired for union activity in July 2008. His coworkers subsequently declared their membership in the Starbucks Workers Union, a campaign of the Industrial Workers of the World, making their store the first union shop in the Mall of America, and the first union Starbucks in Minnesota. Due to a campaign of direct action, media advocacy, and a legal filing, Forman was reinstated to his position over Labor Day Weekend. The IWW campaign at Starbucks continues to gain momentum, as workers unite to build power at the corporate chains in Minneapolis and across the world. Forman is also a member of the Workers Solidarity Alliance.

Dorsey. Baristas at the Wealthy St. Starbucks in East Grand Rapids, Michigan announced their membership in the IWW Starbucks Workers Union on the union’s third anniversary in March 2007. Starbucks waged a relentless union-busting campaign that culminated in the illegal firing of IWW organizer Cole Dorsey on June 6, 2008. In response to union organizing Starbucks installed a 4-camera surveillance system to monitor barista’s every move, gave less in raises to union members, and interrogated baristas every time. The NRLB and the Michigan OSHA both concluded that Cole was wrongfully terminated and should be re-instated with back pay. Starbucks appealed both decisions. The MI-OSHA trial is set to begin March 23 in Lansing.

Come to a presentation and discussion of these workers campaigns!

Hosted by the Northstar Center and Solidarity & Defense

Granholm Proposes Cuts in 2010 Budget

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has Proposed Steep Cuts in her 2010 Budget

Building on her State of the State address earlier this month, Governor Jennifer Granholm proposed a series of reforms and cuts in her 2010 fiscal budget. Granholm said the budget–unveiled yesterday–will address both the structural deficit and the recession.

In a news release, Granholm said:

“The budget I present today addresses the reality that Michigan’s economy is likely to get worse before it gets better… The cuts and reforms I propose will be painful, but they are critical to help us weather this current economic storm and to enable us to invest in the things that matter most to our citizens.”

Granholm is advocating reforms and cuts aimed at reducing the budget by $670 million. In addition, she hopes to increase revenue by $230 million by closing tax loopholes, increasing liquor license fees, lottery investments, and tax enforcement actions

Reforms and changes to the state government include:

  • Closing several additional correctional facilities;
  • Closing the Department of Community Health’s Mount Pleasant Center for Persons with Developmental Disabilities, transferring the patients to community- care settings, as appropriate;
  • Closing the Department of Human Services’ Maxey Woodland Training Center, transferring youth offenders to a smaller, more cost-effective facility on the Maxey campus, to allow the Department of Corrections to use that facility to house male inmates;
  • Closing the Michigan State Police crime lab in Marquette;
  • Ending financial support for the state fairs in Detroit and Upper Peninsula;
  • Eliminating supplemental financial support for the horse-racing industry;
  • Returning responsibility for wetlands protection to the federal Environmental Protection Agency;
  • Overhauling the state’s higher education scholarship programs to create a single merit-based scholarship – Michigan Promise Grants – and a single needs-based scholarship – Michigan College Access Grants – open to all students attending public or private institutions, Combining the Cooperative Extension Service and Agricultural Experiment Station;
  • Consolidating energy programs in the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth;
  • Eliminating the Department of History, Arts, and Libraries and funding for state arts grants;
  • Opening a one-stop-shop for business – a simple Web portal where hundreds of business transactions come together seamlessly on-line;
  • Seeking employee concessions;
  • Expanding investment in community-based monitoring for parolees;
  • Accelerating transition of seniors and the disabled from nursing homes to community-care settings.

Cuts advocated by Granholm:

  • Eliminating more than $50 million in earmarks, including pilot programs and programs which serve single school districts, communities or regions;
  • $120 million in cuts in the Department of Corrections, including the closure of additional facilities;
  • $106 million in cuts in the Department of Community Health, including reductions in the Office of Services to the Aging, elimination of the Office of Drug Control Policy and changes in prescription drug purchasing;
  • $100 million in cuts in the Department of Human Services, including eliminating funding for before and after school programs and the state supplemental payment for Supplemental Security Income recipients;
  • $164 million in cuts to K-12 spending, which includes a reduction in per-pupil foundation allowance of $59 per student;
  • and $100 million in cuts to higher education funding, including a three-percent reduction to university operations.

In Statement to Court, Marie Mason Claims Responsibility & Reasons for MSU Arson

Marie Mason Explains Participation in Earth Liberation Front (ELF) Actions

Last week, MediaMouse.org reported that eco-activist Marie Mason was sentenced to 21 years in prison for her role in an arson at Michigan State University (MSU) in 1999 and other acts attributed to the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). That arson–undertaken to protest genetic engineering–was described simply as an act of terrorism by the media and the government, with little exploration given to why Mason undertook such a drastic action. Aside from a communique from 2000 that we reprinted shortly after Mason was arrested, there has been little said about why she participated in the action.

To that end, we are reprinting Marie Mason’s statement to the judge in her case. Regardless of what one thinks about the action itself, it is clear that it was rooted in a belief that something needed to be done to stop the destruction of the Earth.

Mason’s statement:

“Your Honor,

I understand the serious nature of the offenses to which I have plead guilty. I accept responsibility for my actions. At the time, I feared there were dire and immediate threats to both human and non-human lives and that the health and safety of human communities, as well as the ecological integrity of the Earth, were in jeopardy.

I care deeply about my fellow human being and the other living creatures with whom we share this planet. I felt responsible to take extreme action in the hope that it would save lives and halt deadly practices that directly threatened living beings and contributed to the degradation of the environment. I thought that what I was doing would shine a light on these dangerous policies so that an informed public dialogue would ensue and policies would be changed.

In all of my actions, I was present at the moment that property damage was done or a fire was set. I believed that this way I could ensure that no living creature would inadvertently wander into the site and be endangered. At the time, I felt that it was possible to anticipate and avoid any potential threat to life by taking precautions and by being vigilant at each event. This was not possible, despite my efforts.

In particular, the arson at MSU ended up greatly exceeding the scope of my intent, so much so that I almost became the first casualty in these types of offenses.

Even so, other than this one instance of danger to myself, I remained blinded to the risks that others were exposed to during that action. Much later, even years later, I became aware of how other people who came to the scene after I left were frightened and confused. I also found out that students and employees were greatly inconvenienced and lost personal property, that they felt that there might be a continued threat to them. As I understand it now, firefighters entered the building and were also in danger from the fire and the subsequent water damage to the building. I never anticipated or intended that anyone would have been endangered and am truly sorry that anyone’s life was put in danger.

For more than twenty years, I participated in every legal avenue open to me as a private citizen to educate and persuade government officials and corporate representatives to reconsider policies. I have also participated in civil disobedience in the style taught by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatman Gandhi, whose non-violent teachings I embraced. Given my commitment to non-violence, it was only under an extreme set of circumstances that I rationalized my actions and put people in danger. I believed that I was taking risks to prevent a greater harm to living beings. I never intended to cause danger of harm to any living thing, and by that standard I failed.

I want to explain that the more I learned of the consequences of deforestation and genetic engineering, the more desperate I felt. I am not opposed to conducting research in the interests of expanding knowledge and bringing improvements to health and well being when it is conducted in a responsible and humane way. But genetic engineering research is often conducted in open-air situations that release contaminated pollen into the environment with devastating effects, as in the case of the terminator seed plants. Communities should have the right to choose or refuse the risks that come with GMO’s. What I was more and more aware of in my research and in my dealings with indigenous activists’ work around the globe is that the use of GMO’s forced on communities by collusion between banks, companies and governments was causing starvation, debt and environmental damage through contact with these GMO’s. I felt so much grief for this needless suffering, these needless deaths.

The threat posed to all of us by global warming – for which all of the world’s forests act as a buffer against – is direct and dramatic. The increase in catastrophic storms that caused so much death and destruction in New Orleans and in many parts of Asia are attributable to the erratic warming of the planet. Forests sequester carbon and cool the planet. As we lose them, we lose the time we need to find new and more sustainable ways of fulfilling our energy needs before global climate crisis is unavoidable.

But despite my despair, I have never felt entitled to cause physical harm in order to protect life. I have always taken to heart the Buddhist spiritual principle to take no action that would bring physical harm to any living being. Although there were some risks associated with my actions that were unintentional and unanticipated, I had convinced myself they could be eliminated. In retrospect, I see that this was not possible, and I regret it. I acknowledge that greater harm could have happened and that it is very fortunate that no one was physically hurt, and that there was psychological damage done. I acknowledge those risks and knowing what I know now, I would not have taken the same actions.

My actions were individual acts of conscience and I take sole responsibility for them. The property damage was intended to be symbolic and theatrical in nature, not dangerous or threatening to any individual.

I hope to protect my community and the Earth, to respond in defense of the living systems of animals, land and water. I tried to preserve the natural world from destruction because it is all of our home, because its health is necessary for all of use to live well.

I have failed to bring about the changes that I sought and caused harm where I intended none. I am saddened and sorry for that. My hope is that the next generation that inherits this Earth and the responsibility for stewardship will succeed in finding better methods of bringing about the evolution of our society, a transformation that will benefit all those who share this beautiful Earth.

Though I have been wrong and misguided in my actions to defend my community and this Earth from harm, I hope to be able to dedicate what’s left of my life to service in better ways. I hope to volunteer at a burn center in my community, as some of my past actions risked injuries of that nature. I have some first aid training from my work experience, as well as training for home health care that might be helpful.

I also hope to be able to contribute to community garden programs, both working with at-risk youth and providing food to distribution programs. These gardens have also been pressed into service to provide herbs to free herbal palliative health care. I have had experience as a volunteer before with these kinds of groups and would be happy to contribute again.

I want to state that I am genuinely sorry to those who have felt personally frightened by my actions. I was unable to see this as a consequence of my actions before, probably as I was so overwhelmed with my own grief and fear that I couldn’t empathize with other’s perceptions. I meant to inspire thought and compassion, not fear.

I also acknowledge that my actions endangered lives and I am deeply regretful for that. It was never my intention to cause physical harm and certainly not serious injury. I was wrong to believe it could always be avoided. I am and will always be grateful that my actions did not result in death or injury. But I do understand now that the risk was there.

Lastly, I feel that I need to apologize for the expense and suffering that my actions have caused my family, especially my children. I love my family very much and this has been so hard on them. They have been loving and generous in their support for me.

I hope that you will take all of this into consideration as you make your decision, your Honor.”